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Celtics vs. Hawks final score: Atlanta’s comeback falls just short

An emotional night ended with a thud as the Atlanta Hawks come up just short against the Boston Celtics.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks pulled off a big fourth quarter comeback but fell just short in a 103-101 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Boston came out red hot knocking down eight three-pointers in the first 12 minutes to take an early 28-18 advantage. The Celtics cooled off a bit in the second as Atlanta kept themselves within striking distance. Atlanta unleashed a 12-3 run at the end of the half and tied the game with a pair of free throws by Paul Millsap. Boston would score six of the final eight points of the half and take a 48-44 lead into the intermission.

Things went sideways for the Hawks in the third as Boston pushed the lead to as many as 20 thanks to another barrage of three-point shooting. Millsap did a bit of everything to keep things close and Atlanta was able to whittle the deficit down to 78-65 heading to the fourth.

Atlanta struggled for most of the night offensively but warmed up down the stretch. The Hawks trailed 101-95 with just 52 seconds remaining when Hardaway banked in a three to cut the deficit in half. Isaiah Thomas missed at the other end and Millsap brought the Philips Arena crowd to their feet with another three to tie the game at 101-101.

However, Boston had an answer and Thomas knocked down a jumper with just 2.4 seconds remaining to put the Celtics back in front. Millsap got loose on the baseline for the Hawks on their final possession but his shot missed long giving the Celtics the victory.

Millsap and Hardaway led Atlanta with 23 points each. Delaney finished with 17 while Kent Bazemore added 12.

Thomas led Boston with 28 points while Kelly Olynyk added 26. Al Horford finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists in his return. Both teams went 36 of 83 from the field but the difference was the Celtics three-point shooting where they were 17 of 44 in the game.

The loss snaps Atlanta’s seven-game winning streak. The Hawks are back at it on Sunday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.